Crackle Paint

How to achieve a crackle finish by applying a base coat and glue, then finishing with another color on top.
protect crackle finish with oil based sealer

protect crackle finish with oil based sealer

A matte or eggshell finish looks better on crackle than a high-gloss finish.

Materials and Tools:

foam board for practice
gold spray paint
Hyde glue (a resolvent glue)
spray varnish (sealer)
very fine sandpaper (400-grit)
milk paint
dishwashing liquid
paintbrushes
oil-based sealer

Steps:

1. Spray-paint the foam board with gold paint. When dry, spray it with a coat of spray varnish to seal the paint.

2. Lightly sand the sealed paint surface with very fine sandpaper. This will make the surface a little rougher and allow the glue to stick to it more easily.

3. Brush resolvent glue onto the surface with a paintbrush. Try to spread an even coat of glue. To get a random crackle, it's better to brush in multiple directions.

4. Let the glue dry completely, overnight.

5. You must use water-based paint over the glue. Latex paint doesn't work because it stretches and doesn't crack. Milk paint is the best because it dries brittle and cracks well; acrylic paint also works. Apply the paint with a brush, and be careful not to go back over an area once you've applied the paint. Make sure you have enough paint loaded on the brush before making the strokes.

6. In a short time you'll begin to see the paint crack. Let dry thoroughly.

6. A crackle finish is very susceptible to moisture from weather and will peel away if brushed up against. Protect the surface with an oil-based sealer. A matte or eggshell finish looks better on crackle than a high-gloss finish.

Tips

  • Add just a squirt of dishwashing liquid to a pint of glue to help the glue spread more evenly.
  • The amount of crackling is affected by the quantity of glue that's put on the surface and the amount of paint applied on top of the glue. Some areas will crack more deeply than others. Practice with the amounts of paint and glue until you reach the desired effect.

  • Be sure that there's sufficient contrast between the paint colors.
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